Saturday, October 1, 2022

The $8 billion budget in military spending received mixed reviews. Nation World News

Defense spending was a key area of ​​focus in the federal budget presented this week, given that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had put a renewed emphasis on security in NATO countries.

But depending on who you ask, spending commitments set Thursday by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland are either too low or they thankfully can preserve funding for other budget sectors.

The key figure is the plan to increase defense spending to $8 billion over five years, bringing the country’s 2026-27 defense spending to 1.5 percent of GDP, from 1.39 percent currently.

Of that $8 billion, $6.1 billion is expected to go toward modernizing NORAD, a defense partnership between Canada and the United States, while $500 million is earmarked to help Ukraine. Another amount will be set aside to meet Canada’s commitments to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

But retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie was critical of the government’s plan.

“what is she saying [the Department of] Leslie, a former Liberal MP from Orleans, a suburb of Ottawa, said that protecting has more to do with less, noting that when the Liberals took power in 2015, they promised $12 billion in defense spending, Most of which he said. has not been spent.

He said that requests made to NATO member states also reduce funding.

“They have been telling us to go to two percent for years – the size of our GDP is the same as that of Russia. And that brings us from 1.3 percent to about 1.5, but only at the end of five years, if that. So it’s worse than I could have feared.”

The $8 billion budget in military spending received mixed reviews. Nation World News
Retired Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie says the government is asking the Department of National Defense to do more with less based on the funds allocated in the federal budget presented this week. (Chris Wattie / Reuters)

“Our government’s defense policy – strong, secure, engaged – increases defense spending by more than 70 percent between 2017 and 2026 and increases Canada’s defense spending, in real dollar terms, among 30 NATO members in 2020-2021. holds the sixth place,” Daniel Minden, spokesman for National Defense Minister Anita Anand, said in an email cross country checkup,

“In the short term, Minister Anand will present a robust package to modernize NORAD and ensure our Arctic sovereignty. Minister Anand is in constant contact with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on this matter,” he wrote.

‘The system can’t handle much money’

Peggy Mason, president of the Rideau Institute, an independent foreign policy and defense think-tank, and former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament to the United Nations, said Canada is not far behind in defense spending. However, the war in Ukraine may cause some to expect more money for defense in the budget.

“I’m quite relieved that it’s $8 billion over five years, and I’m further relieved by the fact that … the six billion NORAD is focused on modernization,” Mason said. He said he hopes the funding for NORAD will improve Canada’s ability to monitor the Arctic, “which is very fundamental to sovereignty and security,” she said.

“At the same time, I would like to point out that we still have the fundamental problem that the system cannot handle more money – that they are unable to spend what we are already committed to,” she said.

Mason cited figures from the Parliamentary Budget Office that show the Defense Department is spending about $2 billion annually due to delays in equipment purchases.

Mason said Canada would need to spend an additional $16 billion on defense to bring the country’s defense spending to two percent of GDP.

“I mean, it’s ridiculous. Frankly, it’s redundant that we would do that,” she said.

But for Leslie, he sees it as part of Canada’s “continuously declining role on the international stage.”

“I am deeply concerned that this continued focus on social programs to please the voter comes at the expense of national security and international security, because we are no longer contributing to the peace and stability mission, in fact,” he said.

Defense diplomacy depends on soft skills

Branca Marijn, a senior researcher at Project PlowShares, a peace and disarmament think-tank that is part of the Canadian Council of Churches, agrees that Canada is not focusing on peace missions.

“I think the general public support has been for peacekeeping and peace support operations,” she said. “But that hasn’t been true in the long run, has it? Canada doesn’t really make peacekeeping anymore.”

The $8 billion budget in military spending received mixed reviews. Nation World News
Branca Marijn, a senior researcher at Project Plowshares, says she wants to see more funding in the federal budget for diplomacy efforts and other soft skills that are also important for defense and international relations. (Submitted by Branca Marijn)

Marijn said there is a “disconnect” between public perception of Canada as a peacekeeping country and what the country’s military does.

“There is still a lot of perception that we are peacekeepers,” she said. “It’s not a reflection of where we are.”

He also said that the level of defense spending in the federal budget did not come as a surprise to him, which was indicated before it was introduced.

“What’s disappointing about this is that we’re not seeing the same kind of investment and the same commitment to peace-building and the diplomacy and humanitarian aspects,” she said.

Marijn pointed out that such soft skills are needed, for example, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – from building consensus with other countries to helping refugees if they want to come to Canada.

“It’s something that’s going to be relevant beyond this conflict,” she said.

Written by Andrea Bellemare with files from Nation World News. Interview produced by Steve Howard and Abby Planer.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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